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S.Korea’s disgraced ex-president Park freed after nearly 5 years in prison -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO : South Korean ousted leader Park Geunhye arrives in a Seoul court, South Korea on August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji /File Photo

Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – Former South Korean President Park Geun Hye was freed from prison Friday, nearly five years after she was convicted for corruption. The release fuelled debates about her future role as a presidential candidate in March.

Park (69) was elected as the first leader of the country. In 2017, the Constitutional Court voted to remove Park from office. This followed a scandal which also saw the arrest of Lotte and Samsung (KS).

In January, South Korea’s highest court upheld the 20 year sentence that Park received for colluding in a crime with her friend. The friend is currently in prison and she was able to get tens to billions from these companies to help support her friend’s family.

Park received a pardon from President Moon Jaein last week. She cited Park’s declining health, and expressed her desire to overcome “unfortunate past history” and encourage national unity.

Park, who had been in Seoul since last month, was shown leaving the hospital after she received a pardon letter from correction officers at midnight.

While she didn’t comment, Park, the daughter and former military ruler of Park offered her apology to the public for creating concern. Moon was also thanked for his “tough” decision.

Park is being released as the presidential race between her old party, Moon’s Democratic Party and People Power Party (the main conservative opposition to Park), is tight.

Her confinement caused division in the country. Right-wing and pro-Park groups held weekly rallies to decry Moon and his policies, and called for Park’s release. However, COVID-19 distancing regulations quelled the rallies.

Park was released on Thursday night by more than 1,000 flowers. Hundreds of Park’s fans braved frigid temperatures to support her.

According to the Yonhap news agency, around 200 protestors gathered in Seoul for her release.

Park was not clear whether she would resume political activity, however she wrote in a memoir on Thursday that her conviction had been politically motivated.

Yoon Sukyel, People Power’s presidential nominee, stated on Friday that he has done his job as a prosecutor-general in the Park investigation and said he hopes to return to Park when she is better.

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